The former president's stooges have no idea how to deal with the Justice Department's allegations that he essentially stole highly classified nuclear secrets from the White House:
We should not lose ourselves in the logic of this inane claim – a fake claim of authority (in pectore declassification) wrapped in a demonstrable lie (the standing order). What is more noteworthy is that these are the claims of someone who is not getting any legal advice. Not bad legal advice. No legal advice. At present Trump is represented by two women, one an unknown lawyer from New Jersey and another former OAN host. But I don’t think this is even coming from them. These sound like panicked claims of someone improvising without the benefit of legal counsel. What I draw from this is the real facts of the case are likely worse than they appear.
This doesn’t mean necessarily that the President is in grave legal peril. What it tells me – pulling all these indications together – is that the President’s actions are simply impossible to defend. Why was he refusing to relinquish material the US government thought so sensitive and secret that they had little choice but to seize them at the first opportunity?
The other measure of this is the reaction from Republican elected officials over the last 48 hours, which as near as I can tell is total silence. It’s hard to march without marching orders and Trump is giving them very little to go on about what the facts are and what the bases are for defending him.
The Atlantic's Tom Nichols tries to wrap his head around what the actual fuck:
Perhaps the former president is worried about documents mixed in among other materials that could implicate him in various kinds of wrongdoing; this is my working theory, based on the fact that the search warrant cites three criminal laws, two referring to the unlawful removal and retention of records (including information that could harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary) and one regarding the destruction or concealment of documents in order to obstruct government investigations or administrative proceedings. (Interestingly, none of these laws require the information involved to be classified.)
Nothing can ever be ruled out where Donald Trump is concerned, and it’s certainly possible that Trump—whose history suggests that he never does anything for reasons other than profit or to service his debilitating narcissism—thought he could use America’s secrets for his own financial or political gain. But there’s no point in trying to pin this kind of intent on the former president, thus setting up impossibly high expectations of prosecution that will likely be dashed in the near future—especially when Trump may have already committed severe violations of a law that he himself signed in 2018 that makes his current actions a potential felony.
The short-term danger that the U.S. government had to avert comes from the possibility that Donald Trump as a citizen is as incompetent and lazy as he was when he was president, and that he could lose control of the materials he was keeping in his house.
The more indefensible his actions, the more his supporters defend him. It took certain European countries 12 years of extremist rule and several million allied troops to snap out of their delusions. I hope the Republican Party snaps out of theirs with less bloodshed.
A man attacked and seriously injured author Salman Rushdie at a lecture in upstate New York this morning:
The author Salman Rushdie, who spent years in hiding and under police protection after Iranian officials called for his execution, was attacked and stabbed in the neck on Friday while onstage in Chautauqua, near Lake Erie in western New York, the state police said.
The attack, which shook the literary world, happened at about 11 a.m., shortly after Mr. Rushdie, 75, took the stage for a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, a community that offers arts and literary programming during the summer.
Mr. Rushdie was taken by helicopter to a local hospital, the state police said in a statement. His condition is not yet known. His agent, Andrew Wylie, said in an email Friday afternoon that Mr. Rushdie was undergoing surgery.
It was not clear what motivated the attacker.
[Rushdie] was there for a discussion about the United States as a safe haven for exiled writers and other artists who are under the threat of persecution.
While it's technically true that we don't know "what motivated the attacker," we can make a guess. If this wasn't religious extremism I'll post a public apology to religious extremists everywhere. And not for nothing, when our own home-grown Christianists get into the book-banning habit, they don't have far to go before this sort of thing happens. Fundamentalists of all kinds need to be removed from politics.
Meanwhile, as the Department of Justice reveals more details about just what TS-SCI documents related to our nuclear arsenal the XPOTUS stole from the White House, Republicans have used the warranted search as a fundraising talking point. Because they are the party of law and order. As Josh Marshall said today, "It is probably best to say that we are back in one of those fugue windows Trump Republicans have, much like January 7th-9th 2021, in which there’s a period of relative silence while a story is devised to explain why something inexplicable and indefensible is in fact awesome and totally fine."
When the right wing fell all to pieces because Obamacare made health care easier for poor people to obtain, they managed to pass constitutional amendments in several states to hobble implementation of the Act. Flash forward 10 years and welcome to the delicious irony of unintended consequences:
Nowhere is this phenomenon more evident than in Wyoming, one of the 13 states with a “trigger” law on the books that was designed to immediately outlaw abortions once Roe was overturned.
In late-July, a coalition of Wyoming residents, medical providers, and abortion-supporting nonprofits filed a lawsuit alleging that House Bill 92—the state law which makes performing an abortion in Wyoming a felony crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison except in rare cases of rape, incest or health risks—was unlawful and unenforceable. Among the plaintiffs’ many arguments against the legislation was that it allegedly violated Article 1, Sec. 38 of the Wyoming state constitution, which guarantees that “each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health care decisions.”
That the amendment was intended as a spiteful measure, kicking back against Obamacare, is not in question; indeed, during a hearing before Teton County District Judge Melissa Owens, who was presiding over the abortion-rights supporters’ suit last week, attorneys for the state of Wyoming argued as much in an effort to uphold the abortion trigger law. “That statute was supposed to push back on the Affordable Care Act,” Special Assistant Attorney General Jay Jerde told the Wyoming judge, “not to implicitly confer the right to an abortion.”
I'm interested to see where this fight winds up.
Indiana sits at the "crossroads of America," interposing itself between Chicago and points east like that old racist yutz at the end of your block that you hope isn't sitting on his porch when you walk by. Yesterday, with much fanfare, they became the first state to ban almost all abortions after Dobbs, for many of the same reasons that they once declared pi to be equal to 22/7:
Indiana became the first in the nation to sign new restrictions into law – stripping away a right afforded to Hoosier women for the last 50 years over the course of a two-week special legislative session.
Gov. Eric Holcomb signed Senate Bill 1, which prohibits abortion at any stage of gestation except in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal anomalies or when the pregnant person’s life is at risk, within an hour of its passage late Friday night.
Late Friday, the Indiana Senate voted 28-19 to accept Senate Bill 1 as passed by the House earlier in the day.
The bill passed the House, 62-38, on Friday afternoon. The chamber’s 71 Republicans split on the issue, with nine voting against the bill. The party has been divided on the issue, with some feeling the bill goes too far in restricting abortion and others feeling it doesn’t go far enough.
Within hours, businesses started to pack their bags, with pharmaceutical mega-firm Eli Lilly the first to point out they won't get anyone talented to move to Indiana now. Doctors, too, don't want to work there.
As I said, people traveling over land from Chicago to anyplace east can't practically avoid Indiana, but that doesn't mean we have to spend money there. (Pity, because I had planned to check out two breweries in Michigan City this summer.)
Since 1816 Indiana has demonstrated what happens when too many stupid people occupy a single political unit. Now they've added religious extremism. Because when you get down to it, Indiana is pretty much the Afghanistan of the United States.
At least I don't have an opera rehearsal tonight. That means I might, just might, have some time to read these once I finish preparing for a 7am meeting tomorrow:
Finally, the old Morton Salt plant on Chicago's Near North Side opened last night as a new music venue called "The Salt Shed." It even got a new coat of paint.
We've got a (soft) product release tomorrow afternoon and I've got an opera rehearsal tonight, so a real post will have to wait. I did like Matt Ford's brief note that we've taken the gloves off in the Senate, which is about time. I might have to declare news bankruptcy tonight, though, and return to the world after we launch.
Somehow we got to the end of July, though I could swear March happened 30 seconds ago. If only I were right, these things would be four months in my future:
I will now go out into this gorgeous weather and come back to my office...in August.
So, what's going on today?
Finally, I meant to post this earlier: Cassie, plotzed, after getting home from boarding Sunday night.
Writing in The New Yorker last week, Corey Robin argues that the violent and authoritarian world-view of Justice Thomas (R) has much more internal consistency than we on the left usually ascribe to it, but that doesn't make it better:
Thomas’s argument against substantive due process is more than doctrinal. It’s political. In a speech before the Federalist Society and the Manhattan Institute which he gave in his second year on the Court, Thomas linked a broad reading of the due-process clause, with its ever-expanding list of “unenumerated” rights, to a liberal “rights revolution” that has undermined traditional authority and generated a culture of permissiveness and passivity. That revolution, which began with the New Deal and peaked in the nineteen-sixties, established the welfare state, weakened criminal law, and promulgated sexual freedom. The result has been personal dissipation and widespread disorder. Workers lose their incentive to labor. Men abandon wives and children. Criminals roam and rule the streets.
Liberals often claim that there is something hypocritical, if not perverse, about conservatives enshrining the right to bear arms without enshrining the right to abortion. Conservatives have an easy response: one right is found in the Constitution, both as tradition and text; the other is not. That’s what Justice Samuel Alito argues in Dobbs and in his concurrence, the day before, in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., et al. v. Bruen, which struck down part of New York’s concealed-carry law.
Bodily autonomy is so foundational to contemporary understandings of freedom, however, that it’s hard to imagine a reason for denying it to women other than the fact that they are women. The fetish for guns, meanwhile, can seem like little more than a transposition of America’s white settler past onto its white suburban present....
Today’s felt absence of physical security is the culmination of a decades-long war against social welfare. In the face of a state that won’t do anything about climate change, economic inequality, personal debt, voting rights, and women’s rights, it’s no wonder that an increasing portion of the population, across all races, genders, and beliefs, have determined that the best way to protect themselves, and their families, is by getting a gun. A society with no rights, no freedoms, except for those you claim yourself—this was always Thomas’s vision of the world. Now, for many Americans, it is the only one available.
To sum up our current state of affairs: it might have helped the United States if politicians on the left had taken seriously the worries that many of us expressed about the right's march to power. A minority dedicated to controlling the majority can succeed for a long, long time, until it wrecks the foundations of the society too much to survive. Just ask South Africa how that can go.